Monday, December 3, 2012

Swede and sumac soup

Swede and sumac soup

Recently, I bought a swede at a farmer’s market and was musing about what I could make with it.

The swede is a member of the cabbage family; it is often confused with the turnip, though they look quite different. It's also known as yellow turnip, Swedish turnip and Russian turnip and, in America, rutabaga.

Swede has a round shape and a purple-green skin, and the flesh is yellowy-orange, with a sweet, earthy flavour.

I had never made soup from swede and wondered what I could add to lift and balance the earthy flavour.

Searching in my spice cupboard, I found a jar of sumac.

Sumac is a spice which comes from the berries of a wild bushy shrub that thrives in poor soils and grows wild in all Mediterranean areas and parts of the Middle East.  The highest quality sumac berries come from higher altitude areas.  Sumac is any one of approximately 250 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus.

The fruits of the genus Rhus are ground into a deep-red or purple powder used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a lemony taste to dishes.

So I decided to experiment by combining the sweet earthy flavour of swede with the tangy citrus flavour of sumac and the result was delicious.  Here is the recipe – enjoy!

Swede and Sumac Soup
(serves 2-3)


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions (diced)
1 small pinch salt
½ swede (cubed)
2/3 teaspoon sumac
1 dessert spoon white (shiro) miso (diluted in a little water)

  1. Put olive oil in a pan, add onions and pinch of salt.  Sauté gently on a low flame until the onions are soft and translucent
  2. Add the swede and water to cover half of the vegetables’ volume.  Simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes or until the swede is soft.
  3. Add the sumac spice and the white miso.  Blend until smooth.  Taste and add more water and seasonings if necessary to obtain the desired consistency and flavour.
  4. Serve with a garnish of fresh chopped herbs or a sprinkling of sumac powder 

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